Dutch Parliament rejects plans to banish scooters from cyclepaths in Amsterdam
The Second Chamber of the Dutch parliament last Thursday decided that ‘snorscooters’ will not be forced to use the parts of the road used by motor vehicles instead of cycle paths.
Snorscooters are normal scooters fitted with a speed limiter that restricts them to being driven at no more that 25kph. They have become popular with people who don’t want to cycle, but who don’t want to have to share the road (and traffic queues) with motors. Also, snorscooter riders don’t have to wear helmets. As a result sales of scooters have increased in recent years leading to complaints from cyclists, especially in Amsterdam, about having to share cycle paths with much faster scooters.
The Binnenhof of the Dutch Parliament
The proposal to banish snorscooters to the motor lanes and require use of a helmet was proposed by the Burgemeester of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan, following lobbying by the Dutch national Cyclists’ Union (Fietsersbond). The speed limiters are easily removed and snorscooters are said to be driven at speeds of 40 to 80kph on cycle paths. It is claimed that there are ‘thousands’ of collisions between snorscooters and bicycles every year.
The Dutch Parliament in the Hague
The motion was rejected with parliamentarians arguing that the speed difference between snorscooters and general motor traffic was so great as to create considerable danger.
According to the Dutch newspaper, Telegraaf, the motor trade lobby organization, Bovag, was ‘pleased’ that the motion had been rejected, arguing that because snorscooters were limited to 25kph it would have been a ‘dangerous experiment’ to force them to ride in the motor lanes. The ANWB backed the opposition to the proposal.
However, the Dichtbij website said that ‘one thing is clear’, namely that the MPs who opposed the motion had obviously never ridden a bicycle in Amsterdam as ‘no snorscooter is driven at 25kph’. Dichtbij also pointed out that Bovag was not an organization concerned with road safety but a trade body that wanted to promote scooter sales. If the proposal to banish them from cycle paths would have made scooters less attractive as they would have to wait in traffic jams, so sales would fall. The website said that the cycle lobby had been beaten by the motor trade lobby.
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‘Cyclists in Amsterdam are clearly the losers’, said Dichtbij, ‘yearly there are thousands of accidents [ongelukken] on cyclepaths where upgraded snorscooters [driven at 40 to 80kph] run cyclists down’. Scooters also cause air quality problems on and around cyclepaths, with Dichtbij claiming that one scooter is as dirty as between 20 and 2,700 freight lorries (depending on whether the scooter is 2-stroke or has been upgraded).